Hoosiers Come Up Short at Wisconsin
March 8, 2009
MADISON, Wis. >--Despite career-high performances from freshmen Verdell Jones III and Nick Williams, Indiana couldn't overcome the efforts of Wisconsin senior's Joe Krabbenhoft and Jason Bohannon who combined for 34 points in leading host Wisconsin to an 85-61 win over the Hoosiers, Sunday night in Madison in the final regular season game for both teams.
"For us, we have to learn how to compete in games like this for longer periods of time and we have to learn to take things from a game like this," said IU Coach Tom Crean. "You can look at the glass as half full or you can look at the glass half empty. I choose to look at it half full as much as possible."
Jones, who arguably has been the top freshman in the league since the first of February had a career-high 23 points making seven of 10 field goals and seven of eight from the line. In addition, he hit both of his three-point field goal attempts. His previous career-high was 18 points, a feat he accomplished against Northwestern State and at Minnesota.
Williams had 19 points making six of nine field goals and seven of nine from the charity stripe to best his previous high of 18, which he scored against Cornell.
All totaled, freshmen accounted for 57 of the team's 61 points.
"Verdell is becoming a bonafide both ends of the court kind of guy, and so is Nick," noted Crean. The minutes they are playing this year are going to be invaluable to them in the future. Matt Roth had 29 against Ohio State and that says a lot and Tom Pritchard has been a mainstay since the beginning of the season.
Indiana was in the ballgame the first five minutes of the game and tied it at 10-10 on a three-pointer by Jones with 14:57 left in the half. After Wisconsin built a double digit lead at 26-16 with 6:38 to go, Indiana would score the next four points on a jumper by Williams and a pair of free throws by Jones to cut it to 26-20, but the Badgers outscored IU 14-3 to go into the locker room with a 40-23 edge at halftime.
The Hoosiers fought hard in the second half and three times cut the deficit to 12, the last coming on a layup by senior Kyle Taber to make it 42-30 with 17:25 to go. A three-pointer by freshman Matt Roth with 8:42 to go made it 63-47 with 8:42 to go and that was as close as Indiana would get.
The Hoosiers played without leading scorer Devan Dumes who is nursing a knee injury and in his place started sophomore walk-on Brett Finkelmeier who played a career-high 25 minutes and had an assist and a rebound.
"They got into the depth with us a little bit and we weren't nearly as good getting our hands up on shots," said Crean. "We can't be a step off, we have to get up into people and force them to make the next pass. Wisconsin is as confident at the end of the shot clock as they are at the beginning, that's one of their strengths. You can't relax."
Roth would finish with seven points and freshman Tom Pritchard added eight points. Taber would lead the team with five rebounds.
The Hoosiers would 27 free throws, the most it has shot in a Big Ten game this season, and made 18 from the stripe. Their 18 free throws made matched their league best of 18 set at Michigan State.
The Hoosiers also posted their best shooting effort from the floor when it hit 54.0 from the field making 20 of 37 shots.
Indiana will enter the Big Ten Tournament as the 11th seed and will take on 6th seed Penn State at 5 p.m., Thursday, March 12 in Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
"They are good and we have had some good battles with them," said Crean. "They have three players that are as good as anybody in the country."
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